My three long runs.
These directional errors allow me to be not too far outpaced by him. What has become of the other competitors? It is likely that many
have got lost. Those who successfully reach Harrogate will, I believe, be qualified to complete the course.
I carry on, satisfied with my machine and my route. Doncaster comes into view. My passage through this locality coincides with a notable change in the aspect of the fog. Cotton wool-like and milky up to now, my enemy becomes and remains astonishingly black from Doncaster to Ferrybridge, situated 30 kilometres from Harrogate.
Ferrybridge causes me considerable trouble. It is essential that I do not go too far to the East nor too far to the West - I must locate and follow the railway line to Harrogate. Therefore, I glide down into the middle of the heavy clouds of smoke and circle round the town, at 50 metres above the rooftops! I find the tracks and continue on my way, correctly orientated. More fog and a docile atmosphere, but not much petrol in my tank: a pilot always has his problems! I easily spot the aerodrome, thanks to its white cross, and land there at 7 h. 7'. Védrines is already there.
The journey has not demoralised me, and I cheerfully submit to the obligatory tour of the aerodrome in an automobile. The mayor of the town compliments me and organises refreshments. I regather my strength, inspect my machine and take-off in the direction of Newcastle at 7 h. 47'.
Harrogate - Newcastle : 110 kilometres. - The second stage is little more than a jaunt [une simple promenade d'amateur]. No fog, no wind, and an easy route. At 300 metres, I fly over farms and silent plains of a beautiful green. Near Durham, I search, in vain, for the famous flocks of that county. Neither sight of beast, nor man. My journey proceeds without distractions, monotone. Not far from Newcastle, a few light eddies [de légers remous] herald the Tyne. I pass to the right of the city - enveloped in an unbelievable quantity of smoke from its factories, cross the river, and locate the airfield, 10 kilometres away to the North. Several thousand inhabitants are gathered beneath the trees (8 h. 55'). Again, Védrines is already there!
Higgledy-piggledy, I am brought tea, congratulations, milk, and good wishes: I accept them all with real pleasure. A Frenchwoman makes the kind gesture of welcoming me in the name of the 'entente cordiale'. But I cannot linger. My rival left at 9 h. 20' and I set off in pursuit at 9 h. 25'.
Newcastle - Edinburgh : 150 kilometres. - Anxious moments, navigation errors: the dangers are going to follow each other, unceasingly. This is the beginning of the nerve-racking phase of the Circuit of Britain.
And right from the first, before even getting under way from Newcastle, I am undecided, hesitant. Which route to follow to reach Edinburgh? The coastal route is easier, but will take longer. The inland route presents more obstacles. I choose the most direct heading, deciding, once again, to follow the railway line.
Some kilometres from Newcastle, ever more forceful turbulence makes me fear the approach of a storm. I climb to a great altitude and thus escape from its effects. However, gradually the route becomes less visible. Another incident! A very strong wind springs up at 1,500 metres, paralysing my speed. I have the sensation of not advancing at all. Moreover, the horizon is now cluttered with large clouds: in the North, rain and wind are evidently rife. I can clearly make out many excellent landmarks - lakes, some large ponds - but they do not appear on my War Office map! I am decidedly uneasy in the air, through this foolish weather, these atmospheric disturbances. Yet I am compelled by necessity to continue. There are no